GTA set to receive seamless fare card

Commuters in the GTA are set to get from place to place more conveniently with a seamless fare card developed, designed, and implemented by Accenture Inc.

The system that will cover public transit travel between Hamilton and Oshawa is slated to be rolled out on a limited basis in 2007, with full implementation set for 2010.

“It’s like those proximity cards that people use to get in and out of buildings,” said Alden Cuddihey, senior executive in Accenture’s Canadian government operating group. “But it’s got a chip embedded in the card so it has much more capability, and essentially this card becomes an e-purse (electronic purse).”

Users will have the ability to store value on the card and can configure it in a couple of ways, said Cuddihey.

“These include buying the card much like you would a phone card at a corner store, or personalizing the card so you can buy it for a stored value and then replenish it on an ongoing basis,” he said.

The card would be usable throughout the various transit systems such as GO Transit and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), according to Cuddihey.

“So you don’t have to fumble for change or tickets,” he said. “You just use the same card for every transit transaction and it will automatically deduct the appropriate fares as you come on and off the bus, train or subway.”

The new fare card system is a joint initiative with transit partners including Brampton Transit, GO Transit, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the TTC.

“Fare cards are the smart way to go,” said GO Transit chairman Peter Smith. “The fare card’s flexibility will offer commuters more choices and simplify their travel plans.”

Aside from the obvious convenience benefit it will bring to travelers, it could change the whole business model for public transit, said Cuddihey.

“It really sets the stage for transforming the relationship between the transit provider and the customer,” he said.

He added it will provide an ability to understand the customer more as well as possibly start offering loyalty programs and a number of things not historically contemplated in public transit.

“It’s great to see Toronto leading the pack here in North America,” said Cuddihey. “They clearly understand the importance of deployment and adoption and I think this will give them the opportunity to demonstrate the value of this system to all of their stakeholders, not just the riders but also the service providers who are participating in this.”